Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) is at it Again

I received an email today from ACBC announcing a broadcast called “Help for Single Women Longing for Marriage.” To get an idea what the content of that session is, all you need do is skim an article they included with the advertisement. It was written by Amber Komatsu (I have no idea who she is) and is entitled “Gender Roles and the Single Woman.”
One of the worst dangers of this kind of thing is that it sounds sooooo “biblical,” right? But I can tell you that this stuff does not play out well. In practice, what this gal is saying, and which the ACBC endorses and teaches, is sheer patriarchy that wicked abusers are going to jump right on and use against their victims.
Here is an excerpt from the article – Triggered warning.  Now, I know my criticisms here are going to cause me to be charged with being some “liberal unbeliever” who doesn’t believe God’s Word. Well, I do believe God’s Word. I believe the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. What I don’t believe is the distortions of God’s truth that are packaged up so often just like this. Tell me what you think of what she is saying:

June 14, 2016

Gender Roles and the Single Woman

So tell me what you think of the following:

Fully Woman, Married or Single

As I lived year after year as a single woman, and saw many of my friends marry and have children, I began to feel as if I was missing out on spiritual growth and being complete as a woman. I felt that when the Bible spoke to women, it spoke primarily to women who played for “team marriage.” I wasn’t on the field just yet. My purpose in the Kingdom felt blurry. As I began to think through and understand Scripture, several truths became clear to me.
The single woman can practice being a helper in many different areas (Genesis 2:18) In Genesis 2, God created woman to be a helper to the man. This, of course, is in the context of being a helper fit for a husband. The single woman does not serve any one man, but she is still able to cultivate a heart that helps and serves. Sarah, a dear friend of mine, lives her life serving and helping her local church, families in her church, her boss at work, and her friends and family. In fact, whenever Sarah’s name is spoken by people who know her, it is always spoken with a smile and an acknowledgement that she excels in serving many.
The single woman can affirm and encourage male leadership (Genesis 2:15, I Cor. 14) Men should be leaders in the home and in the church. Single women have the chance to encourage this leadership by the way they interact with other men. Some practical ways to encourage male leadership are asking single brothers to lead in planning social gatherings, asking men who are present at meals to bless the meal, encouraging and thanking elders and deacons for their work in the church, and writing notes of encouragement to married couples and praising the Lord for the good leadership the husband is evidencing in his family.
The single woman can cultivate a posture of submission to her God-given authorities (I Cor. 14:34) A woman should cultivate a posture of submission in her singleness to her earthly authorities, whether her parents, a pastor, a boss, or anyone else in authority to her. A woman should do this for two reasons: First, Jesus commands it, and she’ll look more like Him in her obedience. This is valuable whether she is married at 21, at 71, or never. Second, when a single woman learns to submit to and honor authorities God has placed in her life, earthly marriage will simply be an easier transition than had she not.


The Abuser is Acting With Intentionality — It Takes us Normals a Long Time to Realize This


Is a Written Procedure and Training the Solution to Domestic Abuse Hiding in the Church?


  1. Krikit

    Right off the bat, she has used a complete misinterpretation of Gen 3:16, that, little doubt, she got from a married male preacher/teacher. She then demonstrates she does not know or understand the Greek origin of “helper” as it pertains to the position of wife—Ezer Kenegdo. From there, honestly, I stopped listening, even though I continued to read.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yep. Ezer is a title used for 1) military aid and 2) for God Himself.

      • Tina

        I just couldn’t finish reading. Too triggered.

        • Jeff Crippen

          I know. I hate that stuff too.

        • eagerlabassistants

          Honestly..her effed up thinking sounds no different than a whore being used by everyone..under the guise of righteousness and excuse. Women are for *use* by everyone…forget marriage and discernment.

  2. Debra

    Wow! This is scary stuff. It is the kind of belief system that endangers the lives of women married to abusive men and puts young girls as risk for molestation and rape. It is the kind of thinking that kept me enslaved to an abusive husband. Sometimes I find that other women are more resistant to any challenge to this kind of philosophy than are many men. Why is that? Is it because they can abandon full responsibility for themselves? Because that’s what this kind of thinking requires. It allows someone other than God to take over your life. I have much, much to say about the first three chapters of Genesis. For example, in chapter two, why the parade of animals? Adam was created outside of the Garden. Like the animals, he was made from dust, but God wanted him to know he was not like the animals. The very next thing God did was to create woman. Why? Adam’s response to the woman was that “she is bone of my bones.” This can be interpreted to mean, “she and I share the same nature or essence.” Look up the word bones in Strong’s concordance and you will find that it supports this interpretation. God created woman to assist men to see what God intends them to be. It is a woman’s calling, among other things, to hold men to a high standard. God gave her the power to do that. It is built into her. When the doctrine of headship-submission is embraced, it renders her powerless. The result is a sick society.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I cannot say enough times, run from ACBC and their counselors. The system is not biblical and it puts people in bondage.

    • Maya

      I wholly agree! It is the same mindset that promotes bullying, stalking and harassment. It promotes questioning of God given identities and projection of distortion and perversion. Women should support each other not undermine one another. I had a woman spread a rumor that I was a homosexual because she did not like that I was divorced. Her hateful and delusional slander has provoked insane harassment and defamation of character. As a heterosexual woman I encourage other women to spend more time valuing the unique “treasure” God created in them. That will help us to spend less time tarnishing and devaluing God’s treasure in others. He calls us all his “peculiar (unique) treasures.”. We should act like treasures.

  3. GypsyAngel

    I find Amber Komatsu’s position to be dubious at best really. While I do agree with upholding the authority that is over you, I have qualms concerning the misogynistic message that I’m seeing lurking in between the lines.

  4. Alison

    It kind of sounds like “Where is my boss? Will YOU be my boss?” This is the exact attitude that younger, earnest me had. And those who wanted someone to put down so they could lift themselves up took full advantage of it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, and it is often those who truly want to serve Christ who get sucked into this the most. They sincerely want to know what the Lord desires of them. And along come these kind of pastors and book-writers and these ACBC counselor types saying “I know what God wants from you. Let me teach you.”

  5. walkinginlight

    Pretty much sounds like the theology of the Amish. I decided a long time ago that the only one who “rules” over me is the Holy Spirit. I can trust the Lord with all my heart, which I can no longer do with any human. Jesus came to set the captives free and is the great bondage breaker. This writing from that woman sounds more like a yoke of slavery to me!

  6. zadok

    This is called ‘grooming’ and is defined as ‘setting the stage to support being abused without question or recourse’.
    Long time quiet reader who is almost 10 post escape of an abusive marriage that left me destitute and willing to die, or, rather, seeing death as my only option.
    Thank you for this resource.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Zadok! Yes. It is setting people up
      to be victims. So glad you are free.

    • Z

      Dear Zadok,
      I too am so glad you have found the truth and resources such as this blog about abusers and their tactics. Mostly, I’m so glad you have been set free from the physical and mental danger and wrong teachings that put you in such despair that you almost lost your will to live another day in bondage. My heart breaks for what you went through. Praise God, Jesus died to set us free from every chain, bondage, yoke of slavery…
      Galatians 5:1 – “It was FOR FREEDOM that Christ (DIED TO) SET US FREE.”
      I’m so glad you are now walking in the freedom that cost Jesus so much to give us.

  7. Praying Lady

    My thoughts about Amber Komatsu’s view and writings about headship and submission: IT IS AN OPEN DOOR FOR MEN TO ABUSE WOMEN. So many “Christian” men use those verses to justify their abuse.

  8. IamMyBeloved’s

    Well, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. This woman has been brainwashed on a multitude of levels. First, we are all called to have a servant’s heart, and not due to our gender, but due to Christ’s example. Secondly, as women, we serve Christ, not men or organizations or Churches etc. In all things, we serve Christ. Thirdly, and this one sickens me the most, she earnestly believes that she cannot be spiritually fit unless she is serving men and learning to submit to them. This woman seems to be in big trouble and will soon be leading other single women to enter the same trouble she has found. But what is absolutely no surprise to me, is that ACBC is the one doing the brainwashing and then supporting one of their newfound victims, to propagate this twistedness for them. I hate a false Gospel that leads others to put submission to men as a requirement to accepting the Gospel. It’s making marriage equivalent to salvation and making men to be their wives’ Jesus. It’s going to be a pretty scary day when all the patriarchy worshippers wake up and realize their lamps were burnt out and they have no oil. I have yet to find one of these ppl who can fully and rightly explain the Gospel in its fullness. In my opinion, they are Pharisees. Nothing wrong with rightful submission, but this is an abuse of power they don’t have any right to.

  9. Suzzie

    IamMybeloved’s – wow, such a great understanding! I hope to get there one day…I actually didn’t readily spot all the errors in the ACBC counseling concept. It’s just amazing how subtle a bad theology can creep in unawares. I’ve been so indoctrinated by this kind of thinking that it might be easy to fall prey all over again! Thanks!

  10. My personal experience with the ABCB: I had left my abusive minister-husband. He kept my children away from me. Recently, I found out that my son is getting married. I begged him to allow me to come. The major one of his conditions was that I go through extensive biblical counseling and it had to be one of that group. The closest ones I could find are a two hour drive from where I now live: One man and two women only. I had contacted one woman. She advertised herself as Dr. LIz. I contacted her, asking if she knew my parents and family. Yes, she does. She is close friends with some of them, but didn’t think that would be a problem when counseling me. For me it was, on more than one level, never mind ethically. Then I found out her title “doctor” was a doctor in Business Administration!. Because of my son’s assistance I contacted the only other female on the list. Turns out she is a close friend of my son’s, his age (24 years), and goes to the same church as my abuser. And my son didn’t see a problem with that. I wrote to the organization after that, mentioning the wrong impression Dr. Liz gives and also the lack of credentials displayed by the counselors they advertise. They are not responding. I have read through all their rules and mandates! They are a very dangerous group. They are playing with people’s lives. I have PTSD and was driven to suicide attempts by my abuser. Seeing one of their counselors would have driven me over the edge. I can only imagine how many people are seriously damaged by them. They shouldn’t be legal!

  11. Lynn

    This quote is a prime example of why women are continuing to be abused in the church. These twisted beliefs empower abusers and distort the beauty, value and personhood of all women.
    Women are not less than men. We are of equal value to God. He has given women the unique privilege/burden of being able to bring children into the world. That is no more or less important than a man’s role to provide and protect his family. They were intended to work in harmony, but the nature of sin has broken it so that men and women are in conflict with each other. Both genders desire to be in position over each other as we see in Genesis 3 when the curse against mankind is revealed with men gaining the upper hand and using their physical power to assert dominance over the women. In order to perpetuate this patriarchal dominance, women must be fed lies about their position, worth, and value to God in order to keep them enslaved to their oppressors. That is what this woman is doing in her writings – aiding the abuse of her fellow sisters in Christ with her unwise opinions.
    Women are not incomplete humans if we do not marry. Neither are men. We are not incomplete is we do not have children. Your spiritual growth as a women – or man for that matter – is not hindered if you are single. You are not less or a Christian if you are single. If anything your spiritual life should flourish because you have more opportunity to dedicate time to strengthen your relationship with God than those who are married and/or have children.
    Rebuttal to – The single woman can practice being a helper in many different areas (Genesis 2:18)
    It is clear from the writer’s message, she hasn’t done much research into what the Bible means about women being a “helper” to man. The meaning of helper is about the strength and value a woman brings – as if God is walking alongside the man, not some simpering, submissive girl looking to seek the approval of her husband for every little thing she does. The tone and inference is one of women being less valuable or important than men because God assigned them the role of ‘helper’. She talks about single women as if we are tools to be slotted into whatever ministry the church requires, not as human beings in need of the same grace, love, compassion and care as everyone else. Single women are more often seen for what they can offer others, not for who they are as image bearers of God. Yet this woman misses that point entirely.
    I am not saying that you can’t find value and joy in serving others, because we are called to serve others, but who is really being served in her example with Sarah? What is Sarah’s motivation for serving? Not everyone serves with pure intentions. If Sarah’s the one who’s serving most in her church, who is serving Sarah to make sure she isn’t burning herself out with all of her acts of service? Scripture shows us that Jesus rebukes Martha for trying to take Mary away from her time to sit and learn when Jesus stayed with them instead of helping serve with Martha. Yes service is good in it’s time and place, but being willing to sit and learn at the feet of the master is infinitely more valuable.
    Many times, churches fail to effective serve and care for their singles in their midst. We can be treated as less than, broken, or an outsider. This happens because we didn’t fit the traditional mold of getting married and settling down to have a family or went through a divorce from an abusive spouse and those we are in fellowship with see that as a moral failing.
    As Christians we must realize and teach others that singleness is not a curse. Jesus was single his entire life. Paul was also single in his ministry. Do you think God somehow sees them as less than those who were married and ministered the gospel? Of course not. As a single person, you are not viewed as less than in God’s eyes.
    Singleness is a gift from God, just like marriage is. It is a way out for those who’ve been trapped in abusive marriages and other relationships. It is a place for healing your heart if you let it. It is an opportunity to know God more intimately because you are not splitting your time and energy between Him and your spouse. It is a chance to discover yourself, your values, your beliefs, your gifts, your God-given dreams and desires and pursue them with passionate perseverance in until he calls you home or returns in glory.
    The treatment of single Christian women – over the age of 30 – in today’s church is heartbreaking. Attitudes like what are expressed in the above quote further damage those of us who have already suffered deep trauma. Most church people don’t take the time to understand why we are single & assume that either something is wrong with us or that we are too independent and prefer ‘freedom’ rather than relationship. Neither statement is true.
    There is a reason why we haven’t married & settled down. Each of us have our own story. For me, it was a deep fear of repeating the past abusive patterns that I was raised with or ending up married to a narcissist. As an domestic abuse survivor, toxic behavior was normalized in my family.
    I never saw what healthy love relationships looked like. I am peeling away the layers of crap they heaped on me so I can learn how to build healthy relationships. I refuse to pursue a romantic relationship with anyone until I am strong enough to do so in a healthy manner. Maybe that day comes, maybe it doesn’t. I trust God to work it all out.
    I want to experience genuine love, not love bombing. I want a mutually respectful relationship that is reciprocal in nature, not one where I’m treated as less than because I am a woman. I want someone whose beliefs, values, interests and dreams are in alignment with my own.
    I will settle for nothing less than that. There are worse things in life than being single.
    Rebuttal to – The single woman can affirm and encourage male leadership (Genesis 2:15, I Cor. 14) and The single woman can cultivate a posture of submission to her God-given authorities (I Cor. 14:34)
    While this may sound admirable, there is a darkly sinister underbelly to her statements. This kind of twisted belief is what keeps abused women in relationships much longer than they needed to be enslaved. Abusive, power hungry men use this kind of a statement to manipulate and control their victims. It’s all about what the women around him can do for him, thus inflating his pride by stroking his ego.
    How she talks about submission is a big red flag. What the heck is a posture of submission? It sounds like another way of saying be a doormat. Yes, we are called to be obedient to the laws of the land and to God’s laws, but if you don’t properly interpret what God means in his word, you are inviting abuse into your midst.
    In Christian marriage there is to be mutual submission, not just the woman submitting to the man. As a single person, I am not instructed to submit to men as a married woman submits to her husband. I am called to submit to Christ and his perfect will for my life. I am instructed to treat those in authority with honor, obeying the laws of the land as long as they don’t contradict scripture.
    I want to clarify that I didn’t mean you can’t compliment a man in leadership when they do something good or encourage them if they are feeling discouraged. Beware of anyone who demands that it is the responsibility of all of the women in their sphere to be affirming and cheerleaders for their male leaders at all times. That mindset is rife with opportunities for abuse. The examples given demonstrate by the author makes it appear she believes that men are somehow superior to women and must be treated with special deference and reverence. This kind of logic is how cults keep their people in line because they elevate a single person or a group of people giving them more value over those who aren’t in those positions of power and authority.
    Authority and single women do not have the same responsibilities as married women. As a single adult women no longer living at home, I am no longer under the “authority“ of my father. He doesn’t have the right to tell me what to do, how I should act, what kind of career I must pursue, who I must marry, or who I am supposed to be. Were we still in a healthy relationship, he would be able to listen to me, offer me advice when I asked, and be there to love and support me on my journey in life. But he isn’t. He chose to be abusive and neglectful, and has to now live with the consequences that he will most likely never see me again.
    As a single woman, I am instructed to submit to the laws of the land unless they violate God’s law. If I violate a law, I can expect to be punished for it, just like any other citizen.
    As a single woman, I am not under the authority of every man I’m in contact with. I have equal value and standing before God as they do.
    As a single woman, I am not under the ‘authority’ – meaning I am required to submit to their every whim or command – of a specific pastor or elder. His role as a spiritual authority in my life is not one of me being subservient to or less than him as a fellow believer. He has been given the responsibility to illuminate what the scripture means to his congregation and is held to a higher standard before God as a result of his position.
    I can seek counsel from a pastor, but my decisions rest with me. Not following a pastors advice is not sin. Pastors are humans too. They can give bad advice that could have deep and far reaching consequences if not carefully considered. Not all pastors are genuine Christians. Many are drawn to the ministry for their own power, glory and the chance to get rich off of the donations of their congregation.
    The Bible didn’t mean that when it said a laborer is worthy of his hire that he has to earn enough money to keep up with the Kardashians. Yet many mega church pastors live like they are little kings overseeing their kingdom on earth, hanging around with those who have fame and influence in order to prop up their own egos. Take a look at how Christ demonstrated his authority while on earth and model that.
    Christ demonstrated his authority by serving others, calling sinners into repentance, exposing the false teachers with their dead religion, and teaching the people about who God is and what he’s like. That is what leadership in the church is to model when they exert their ‘authority’ in their relationships. Anyone who lords the idea authority over you as a weapon for manipulation or control is abusing the authority granted to them by God. Anyone who teaches submission as being one-sided towards all women lacks the proper understanding of biblical submission.
    Be wise as serpents, lest you be ensnared by false teaching and end up in a deeper level of bondage than what you previously experienced, and innocent as doves, lest you cause yourself or one of God’s little one to stumble.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *